By Gene Phelps
RIPLEY – Ripley, following its successful summer session, was considered a team to beat headed into the high school volleyball season.
The “to beat” part was dead on. The Lady Tigers, a team with so much preseason promise, lost nine of their first 10 matches. It took an upset of Class III Tupelo in the season’s 11th match to get the squad kickstarted.
“Something clicked and we started playing as a team,” Ripley senior middle blocker Meg Lambert said. “Honestly, we didn’t know what was going on. We knew this wasn’t how our season was supposed to go.”
The Lady Tigers defeated visiting Tishomingo County 3-0 in a Class I, Division 1 match Tuesday at the Events Center for their seventh win in eight matches. Ripley (8-10, 3-2) has one league game remaining – against Alcorn Central – before the division tournament is played Oct. 12 at the Ripley Event Center.
Ripley beat Tishomingo County 25-16, 25-12 and 25-16 behind 14 kills from senior Abby Sullivan. The Lady Tigers fell behind early in the first game, but rallied behind Sullivan’s offensive play.
An ace by Paris Prather gave Ripley a commanding 17-7 lead in the second game. Tishomingo County led 5-1 in the third game, but the Lady Tigers rallied quickly.
“Overall, I thought we played well,” said Ripley coach Ashley Connolly. “We didn’t give up, but I thought we should have pushed it more. We let our mistakes give them points.”
This is only the second season for the sport at Tishomingo County. The Lady Braves (7-9, 1-4), after winning just one game until late in the 2012 season, won six games down the stretch and reached the second round of the postseason.
“If you can weather the highs and lows (in volleyball) you can be successful,” Braves coach Seth Kennedy said. “A lot of games are going to be close.”
Megan Lomenick led the Braves with eight kills while Brooke Williams recorded nine assists.